Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Week in Cheese

It's been a cheesy week as I've tried oh, about 4 new things you see here. 

Last Sunday I made queso fresco with cows milk.  I've been taking a hunk of it in for lunch every day to eat with my salad and homemade beef jerky.  (Aside - I've brought my lunch to work for the last 2 weeks solid! Yay me!)  The cheese doesn't have a lot of flavor, but it is filling.  And fast to make for us instant gratification folks.

Then on Tuesday I made goat milk chevre.  That's a long cheese to make.  It was ready Wednesday evening, but it tasted yogurt-y.  So I put garlic, dill and chives in it.  It still tastes yogurt-y.  I have a hankering to put this in phyllo triangles, so I may pick up some phyllo this afternoon.

On Thursday night I made starter (in the Ball jar) which takes a day to percolate, that I used Friday night to make goat milk cheddar.  This starter is what came from NE Cheesemaking Co labeled as Fresh starter.  Apparently it's a mixture of mesophilic bacteria.  I cultured it, but then couldn't find any recipes in the cookbook that use it.  The recipes just say mesophilic or thermophilic starter.  But thermophilic starter doesn't come in the beginners kit.  Since I had the starter cultured already, I decided to use it in a recipe as mesophilic starter.  I am finding this "beginners" book a little confusing.  Some parts are written for beginners, but other parts aren't.

But then, all the goat milk recipes I could use it in all call for 4 gallons of goat milk.  FOUR gallons??  I had ONE.  I vaguely remember that you use the same amount of something for 1 through 4 gallons, but the recipes don't tell you how to size down for less milk.  So I just did something - even if it was wrong.  I used the same amount of starter and rennet that I would use for 4 gallons but only used 1 gallon of milk.

It's a pretty lengthy process.  Lots of bringing to a temperature then sitting for an hour, then stirring for 45 minutes, etc, etc.  By 11 last night, I had finally gotten to the part where I get to put it into the mold.  Never mind that there's another 2 hours of turning and rewrapping involved after that, per the recipe.  What I found out is that my 6-inch wood follower doesn't fit in the PVC pipe mold.  The pipe is not round.  I thought I had checked that, but apparently not.  And 11 pm is not a good time for discoveries like that.

So I made something up and went to bed.  That's why the last cheese is lumpy.  I don't think I'm going to wait the recommended 6-12 weeks on this cheese.  There are multiple ways I diverged from the recipe and I don't know what the impact will be on the result.

You know - when I'm cooking, or knitting, or sewing, or building something, I have a feel for what happens when I make a change from the directions.  Cheese, not so much.  I have a suspicion that there will be quite a few dead soldiers on the field before I get that knowledge.  I'm tempted to say that last week wasn't very satisfying because I have a bunch of failed experiments to show for it.  But I do have a bunch of stuff to show for my work last week - and it IS all edible.


  1. Hello! I am one of your followers who does not get to read/comment on your great blog as much as I would like. I have Photo Tagged you. :)

    check out the link:

    Have a great weekend!

  2. And.... My mom used to make goat cheese from our goat but I would have to ask her how she made it. Let me know if you want know how.

  3. Hi Jennifer - I'm moving fast right now on the way somewhere, but the photo tag sounds fun! I'll get to it and check out your site later this weekend.

  4. Wow! I'm impressed with your great progress....and courage. All I've done this weekend (so far) is feed kids. I have ventured into making cheese just a handful of times and though not always impressive (the cheese was not very tasty) it was fun and helped me feel closer to the self sustaining lifestyle that I crave so much for our family. Great Going! (I wish it were me.....maybe next week end)

  5. Hi Elizabeth! I'm definitely beginning to see that the thing to do is find a cheese or two that're relatively easy and stick to them. The only way I've been able to do so much is that I don't have kids to take care of. Your task is much harder then mine!

  6. Well, the kid thing is great! I'm not sure I'd be as diligent about the quality of our food if I wasn't so concerned about my kids growing a third eye because of some unknown chemical in our system. About the cheeses....hmmm...just a couple of good cheese recipes to start with? Do you have any suggestions?

  7. Well, mozzarella is a fast cheese and you don't need a cheese press to do it. I think there are some other cheeses that you don't need a press for. New England Cheesemaking Company or or David Fankhauser are all good sources of info.

  8. Yes, I've visited David's website before. He's really good at what he does. Plus his instructions are great for us newbies.

  9. I so enjoyed reading about your cheesemaking! Our heifer will calve soon and we'll be able to make raw milk cheese. I'm new to blog world and am thrilled their are blogs like yours here.

  10. Thanks for the compliment! I'm really enjoying blogging. I followed your profile back and think I'm going to enjoy reading about your start up as well. Us new folks need to stick together!